National Sports Briefs

Published 12:00 am Saturday, March 12, 2011

Associated Press
DARLINGTON, S.C. ó Kasey Kahne made the right choice in giving up a week off, running up front the final 51 laps to win Camping World Truck series event at Darlington Raceway on Saturday night.
The Sprint Cup star couldíve powered down like his Cancun-bound truck owner Kyle Busch as NASCARís top series took off. Instead, Kahne hopped into the No. 18 Toyota to win his second Darlington Trucks race in two starts.
ěIíll buy (Kyle) a vacation anytime to drive this thing again,î Kahne said.
He held off defending series champ and Darlington winner Todd Bodine on a restart with three laps remaining.
Ron Hornaday Jr. finished second, and Bodine was third. Series points leader Matt Crafton took fourth and James Buuescher finished fifth.
Kahne has three victories and a second in four career Trucks starts.
WASHINGTON ó Welcome to The NFL Lockout.
As far back as two years ago, it became a possibility.
As recently as a week ago ó when owners and players agreed to extend the deadline for reaching a labor deal ó Commissioner Roger Goodell made it sound avoidable.
And yet here we are: The countryís most popular sport ó water-cooler fodder for six months of Mondays; generator of more than $9 billion in annual revenues; responsible for the two most-watched programs in U.S. TV history, the 2010 and 2011 Super Bowls ó is stuck in a holding pattern, thanks to its first work stoppage in nearly a quarter of a century.
The owners imposed a lockout on the players Saturday, essentially shutting down operations. That came hours after talks broke off and the union dissolved itself.
WESTLAKE VILLAGE, Calif. ó Gary Wichard, the longtime NFL player agent who was suspended last year for his role in a recruiting scandal at North Carolina, died Friday. He was 60.
He died at his home in Westlake Village, Calif., from diabetes and pancreatic cancer, the public relations firm Rogers & Cowan said.
An agent since 1980, Wichardís NFL clients included Dwight Freeney, Jason Taylor, Antonio Cromartie, Elvis Dumervil, Terrell Suggs and Darren Sproles.
PROVIDENCE, R.I. ó An 11-2 start, consecutive wins against ranked teams and the nationís second highest scorer couldnít save Keno Davisí job as menís basketball coach at Providence.
Davis, whose Friars struggled to compete in the Big East, was fired after three seasons.
LOS ANGELES ó Southern California coach Kevin OíNeill was suspended for the rest of the Pac-10 tournament after getting into a verbal confrontation with an Arizona booster.
DORAL, Fla. ó Dustin Johnson hit his stride and found his swagger Saturday on the back nine of the Blue Monster at Doral to emerge with a two-shot lead going into the final round of the Cadillac Championship.
Johnson hit what he called a “bunt drive” some 310 yards on the 17th and hit wedge to 2 feet for the last of his eight birdies. Just as importantly, he played the 18th hole without drama to finish with a 7-under 65.
He was at 13-under 203, although eight players are separated by three shots. That group does not include Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, who remain out of the mix.
VIERA, Fla. ó The Washington Nationals have optioned top prospect Bryce Harper to Class A Hagerstown, saying the top overall pick in last year’s draft needs to get more playing time to prepare for the season.
The 18-year-old Harper, who hit .389 in 13 spring games, was disappointed but determined to make it back to the big leagues as soon as possible.
Harper was a catcher for most of his high school and college career, but the Nationals drafted him as an outfielder, and used him exclusively as a right fielder in spring training.
KISSIMMEE, Fla. ó Tim Hudson said he was getting a little bit bored of spring training about a week ago, even if his arm wasn’t quite ready to start the season.
He sure looked ready on Saturday.
Hudson pitched four-hit ball over four innings in the Atlanta Braves’ 12-0 win over the New York Mets on Saturday.
Hudson struck out four and the Braves’ six pitchers didn’t allow a walk in the win. Hudson was 17-9 with a 2.83 ERA last season.
Another Brave who appears ready is third baseman Chipper Jones who is coming off a torn ACL that ended his 2010 season last summer. Jones reached base in all four plate appearances and scored two runs in six innings, his longest stint yet in the field. Gonzalez said that Jones is running better than he has all spring.